Hawaiian Style Cafe Opens in Hilo…Quietly
by Nate Gaddis
“We’re aiming for…a soft opening” says a cautious-sounding Gina Kao`o, as husband Gui moves chairs around the dining room of their brand new Hilo location.
The Guis, owners of the landmark Hawaiian Style Café in Kamuela, have been steadily building and staffing their second restaurant since April of 2011, when they first signed on to be a key tenant in the new Manono Marketplace shopping plaza.
Hawaiian Style Café’s Kamuela restaurant garnered a loyal following of locals and tourists alike with its home-style local fare and old-time vibe. But there is no doubt about what sets the restaurant apart from others.
For the uninitiated, the first sighting of a ‘Hawaiian Style’ pancake can induce shock. They are plate-hogging monsters, often leaving first timers momentarily speechless.
Those slack-jawed first impressions have proven priceless, rocketing ‘Hawaiian Style’ up the charts at online review sites, over Facebook, and eventually onto the pages of Travel and Leisure Magazine for serving one of ‘Americas Best Pancakes.’
Their new Hilo location is double the size of the original, seating up to 90 people indoors, and another 24-30 at the sidewalk tables lining the exterior.
A staff of approximately 45, mostly from the Hilo area, has been hired to run the restaurant, receiving training at the Kamuela location in preparation for opening.
The biggest change has been the addition of dinner service. After closing at 2:00 pm, the restaurant retires its breakfast menu for the day, reopening at 5:00 pm to serve its lunch favorites and a variety of dinner specials.
Saimin has also been added to the menu, ranging from ‘traditional’ to ‘Pulehu Ribs Mein’ (grilled beef short ribs served over noodles and broth.) Beer and wine will also be available, eventually. “We do have our liquor license, and we’ll be bringing in a small selection soon” explains Gina.
Despite having worked for over a year and a half to get the doors to their new restaurant open, the Guis have completely avoided advertising the establishment yet.
“We just got power connected three weeks ago, and our credit card machines aren’t even up and running yet” says Gina, who cautions that only cash will be accepted for the time being. She adds “we really want to get things running smooth before holding any kind of grand opening.”
Hawaiian Style Café is located at 681 Manono Street, Hilo.
Hours of operation are Monday from 6 a.m. till 2 p.m., Tuesday through Friday from 6 a.m. till 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. till 8 p.m. Saturday from 7 a.m. till 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. till 9 p.m. Sunday from 7 a.m. till 2 p.m.